An Architect’s 1930s Bungalow Turned Sustainable Family Haven

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Architect Emily Sandstrom and Chris Low endured a long search before they stumbled upon a 1930s house in South Marrickville. They had been looking for an older property they could personalise and ‘bring back to life’ – it also had to have the space and aspect to grow fresh produce in their own backyard.

So, when they found a dated bungalow that ticked all these boxes, they weren’t deterred by its lack of hot water in the kitchen, or the sunroom filled with asbestos.

‘While the house was rundown, there were so many original features that we loved — the stained-glass windows, the ceiling details, the dark timber detailing, the scale of the rooms, and we really wanted to preserve the history and integrity of the house,’ Emily says.

They demolished the small kitchen, laundry, the asbestos sunroom, and the outhouse at the rear. A key part of their renovations was salvaging recycled materials from anything they knocked down, even going to the effort of hand-cleaning the bricks and building them into their new 45sqm extension.

It’s no secret that getting an older property to meet the environmental concerns of today is big ask. But in addition to minimising waste by restoring the original parts of the home, Emily and Chris’ thoughtful renovations have also managed to equip the bungalow for the future with an impressive list of sustainable features.

The refreshed home runs off solar power and is passively designed with concrete flooring and double-glazed windows to eliminate the need for heating or cooling. It also operates off a 7000L water tank, and in line with the couple’s vision, they created a productive garden made up of almost entirely edible plants. There’s even a remarkable wine cabinet, which is cooled without electricity, ‘using cross flow of air directed underground through a system of pipes that cools the cabinet to 16 degrees’!

Chris is a chef by trade, so creating spaces for cooking, and entertaining was another central point of their dream home. As a result, the U-shaped extension has been designed to champion the garden views, with the kitchen extending into the lush outdoor space.

‘Overall, the design is airy and light, and leans to elements of hospitality design in the rear, while being more relaxed and cosy in the original home,’ Emily adds.

‘We designed joinery that preserved all the skirting, picture rail and ceiling details, as well as the sense of scale and traditional layout of the rooms. We hope that we’ve positively impacted the original home and site so that it will have a life beyond our time there.’





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